Lepismium houlletianum, also as the snowdrop cactus or rhipsalis houlletiana, is one of the most striking and beautiful flowering plants, often found growing in warm, arid parts of the western United States and northern Mexico. However, unlike many other types of cacti, this stunning species isn’t nearly as difficult to care for, and can make an excellent houseplant if you know what you’re doing.
Not all cacti are prickly, spiky, and full of thorns; some are as soft and sweet as the delicate snowdrop flower it’s named after. Lepismium houlletianum, or Snowdrop Cactus, originates from South Africa where it grows in rocky terrain at high altitudes.
These spiky, compact plants are grown both indoors and outdoors, although they are not tolerant of frost or extreme heat or cold. Like most cacti, snowdrop cacti are monocarpic, meaning that they usually only flower once before dying.
These lepismium houlletianum care tips will help keep your plant healthy and happy in just about any environment imaginable.
Origin and distribution
Lepismium houlletianum is a cactus native to South America. It is found in Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. The plant grows in dry, rocky areas and is often found on cliffs or in open woodlands.
The cactus can also be found in cultivation in Europe and North America. It has been planted as an ornamental specimen in southern California. Lepismium houlletianum produces flowers that resemble snowdrops with bright yellowish-green tinges on the petals and sepals. The leaves are needle-like with white stripes running down the length of the leaf.
Lepismium houlletianum can grow up to 1 foot tall and 8 inches wide. The flowers bloom from late summer until early winter, with individual plants flowering at different times throughout this period. These plants need a lot of sun for the most vibrant colors; they will do best in full sun all day long.
Lepismium houlletianum propagation
Lepismium houlletianum can be propagated by seed or stem cuttings. To propagate by seed, sow the seeds in a well-draining cactus mix at a depth of 1/4 inch. Keep the soil moist but not wet and place the container in a warm, bright location. Seeds will germinate in 7-21 days. When there are about six sets of leaves on the plant, transplant it to a pot containing standard potting soil.
As for propagation from stem cuttings, these can be taken anytime throughout the year with some degree of success depending on the time of year taken. For example, summer cuttings should produce roots faster than winter ones due to their ability to form adventitious roots sooner than those taken in the winter months.
Stem cuttings should be between 3-6 inches long and all leaf nodes should be removed from the bottom half of the cutting. Carefully remove all flower buds and blooms from this portion as they may become damaged during the rooting process if left attached.
If necessary, remove excess spines along the cutting’s length if these might inhibit rooting. Take care to handle stems with gloves so that your hands do not come into contact with sap which is known to cause skin irritation and photosensitivity reactions in some people.
Lepismium houlletianum care information
Lepismium houlletianum, or snowdrop cactus, is a beautiful and unique plant that is native to South America. It is related to the rhipsalis, and shares many of the same care needs. These plants are easy to grow and care for, and make a great addition to any indoor or outdoor space. Here are a few tips to help you care for your lepismium houlletianum
Lepismium houlletianum requires bright light to thrive but can tolerate some direct sun. If the plant does not receive enough light, it will stretch and become leggy. The snowdrop cactus prefers south- or west-facing window with indirect sunlight. They also do well in artificial lights, such as grow lights.
Lepismium houlletianum prefers a fast-draining potting mix. You can make your own by mixing together two parts perlite or coarse sand, one part peat moss, and one part potting soil. Or you can purchase a cactus and succulent potting mix from your local garden center.
Water your lepismium houlletianum once every two to three weeks, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. In the winter, you can reduce watering to once a month. Be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. When watering, try not to allow any water from the pot to touch the stem.
Fertilize your lepismium houlletianum every two weeks during the growing season with a balanced cactus fertilizer. You can back off to once a month during the winter. Be sure to flush the potting mix with clear water every few months to prevent salt buildup.
If you see the tips of the leaves turning brown, that’s a sign of too much fertilizer. Lower the frequency and increase the time between fertilizing.
The snowdrop cactus is a tropical plant, so it requires warm temperatures to thrive. During the day, the ideal temperature is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, the temperature can drop to about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the temperature gets too cold, the plant will start to turn brown and wilt. The snowdrop cactus can also tolerate high humidity levels.
Lepismium houlletianum is a desert plant, so it’s used to dry conditions. However, when grown as a houseplant, it appreciates some humidity. You can increase the humidity around your Lepismium houlletianum by grouping it with other plants, running a humidifier, or setting it on a pebble tray.
If you notice the leaves of your Lepismium houlletianum starting to wrinkle, that’s a sign that it needs more humidity.
The ideal humidity range is between 30-50%. Dry air will result in spindly growth and brown leaf tips. It may be necessary to maintain this level with a humidifier if you live in an area where the relative humidity tends to drop below 30% during the winter months.
Snowdrop cacti are sun-lovers and they should be kept outdoors during warmer months but remember they need protection from intense heat during the summertime.
You can prune your lepismium houlletianum any time of year, but late winter or early spring is best. Start by removing any dead or dying branches. Then, cut back any overgrown branches to the desired length. If you want to encourage branching, cut the main stem back by about one-third.
Finally, remove any spent flowers or flower buds. Use sharp, clean scissors and be careful not to damage new growth. Be sure to dispose of these on your way out so they don’t spread invasive weeds outside the garden area.
When to repot
Repotting is typically done every two to three years, or when the plant has outgrown its pot. You’ll know it’s time to repot when you see roots coming out of the drainage holes, or the plant becomes top-heavy and starts to lean. If you’re not sure whether or not to repot, err on the side of caution and do it sooner rather than later.
When repotting, use a pot that’s at least one size larger. Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom of the new container and use a sterile growing medium like perlite for cacti plants.
The snowdrop cactus, also known as Lepismium houlletianum, is a tropical cactus that originates from Brazil. This cactus does best in full sun to partial shade and needs well-draining soil.
The snowdrop cactus is a fast grower and can reach up to 6 feet tall. During the winter months, the snowdrop cactus will enter a state of dormancy. This means that the plant will stop growing and may even lose some of its leaves. It’s important not to water your snowdrop cactus during this time.
Watering the plant too much during dormancy could lead to rot or mold developing on the roots which could kill your plant. You should only water your snowdrop cactus after it has started coming out of dormancy again, usually around late March or early April when you start seeing new growth starting again.
Lepismium houlletianum flower & fragrance
The flowers of the Lepismium Houlletianum are small and white, with a delicate fragrance. They bloom in the spring and summer, and are pollinated by bees and other insects. The flowers are followed by small, red fruits.
The growth rate of Lepismium houlletianum is pretty fast. In the right conditions, it can grow up to 3 inches a year. But, if you live in an area with a shorter growing season, its growth will be slower. To encourage fast growth, make sure to plant it in well-draining soil and give it plenty of sunlight.
Lepismium houlletianum is not toxic and therefore considered safe around pets and children.
USDA hardiness zones
Lepismium houlletianum grows best in USDA hardiness zones 8-10, with winter lows of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less. These cacti are especially sensitive to frost, so care should be taken to protect them from cold temperatures when the plant is young.
Pests and diseases
As with most cacti, Lepismium houlletianum is susceptible to mealybugs and other sap-sucking pests. These pests can cause the plant to become stunted or even die. If you see any pests on your plant, isolate them immediately and treat them with an appropriate insecticide.
If your plants are in pots, make sure they are drained of excess water regularly so that they don’t rot from overwatering. When planting a snowdrop cactus in the ground, make sure there is plenty of room for its roots to grow without being crowded by other plants and bushes.